What is the IKEv2/IPsec Protocol? All You Need to Know

Ruheni Mathenge Last updated: September 19, 2022 Read time: 9 minutes Disclosure

IKEv2 (often implemented as IKEv2/IPSec in VPNs) is a communication protocol that establishes Security Association (SA) in IPSec.

Today, VPNs no more remain a strange technology. VPNs now have multiple use cases, becoming an essential privacy tool for everyone. Therefore, it’s vital to know about the various VPN connection protocols to make the best of this tool. One of the most common protocols you’ll see in most VPN services is the IKEv2 protocol. (You may also frequently find it as “IKEv2/IPSec” protocol.)

This article elaborates on the IKEv2/IPSec protocol, how it works, comparison with other protocols, and much more. 

IKEv2/IPSec protocol: The definition

Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is a popular tunneling protocol that controls request and response actions. In addition, it establishes and handles the Security Association (SA) attribute to protect the communication between two entities

The first version, Internet Key Exchange (IKE), was introduced in 1998 as IKE version 1 (IKEv1). It was later upgraded to Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) in 2005.

IKEv2 is popular because it is faster, secure, stable, has low CPU usage, and quick reconnection. Also, it is a bit lightweight, so it is suitable for mobile devices, especially iOS. 

Usually, IKEv2 is paired with the authentication suite IPSec, a joint project between Microsoft and Cisco to form IKEv2/IPSec protocol. This combination is more secure and uses fewer resources to protect connections. 

How does IKEv2/IPSec work?

Since IKEv2 frequently works when coupled with IPSec, the steps outlined below define how the two protocols work together.

First, the protocol uses a Diffie-Hellman (DH) key exchange algorithm to protect communication between the VPN server and your device.